Shaving $98,000 off the Cost of College

For three million students, the angst about getting into college had disappeared. That’s roughly the number of freshmen who will be attending college in the fall.

The final grades are in, the college admission decisions are made. Freshmen face the prospects of locating extra-long sheets, discovering the name of their dorm roommate, attending freshmen orientation and counting down the days until school starts.

The summer between high school and college has got to be the nicest one for most teenagers. I was thinking about this over the holiday weekend because the boys in my son’s high school carpool got together with parents at our house for dinner.

Nathan, Ben’s best friend, who he has known since third grade, is going to Carleton College. Ben will be attending Beloit College and the two friends were eager to hear the experiences of Madison, a Japanese and creative writing major, who had just finished his freshmen year at Beloit.  The only one missing was Danielle, who just successfully completed her freshman year at University of California, Davis, where she is in the pre-veterinarian program.

Hearing the boys talk, it occurred to me that all the hassles they encountered with getting into college was worth it for these three young men because they found great academic fits — and they got them at discount prices.

I added up the published tuition and room and board prices for the three boys for the coming year and it totaled a whopping $136,500. Madison, Nathan and Ben, however, collectively received grants from their respective liberal arts colleges for the 2010-11 school year that total about $98,000.

Now that’s something to celebrate.

Lynn O’Shaughnessy is the author of The College Solution and a new eBook, Shrinking the Cost of College. She also blogs for CBSMoneyWatch and US News. Follow her on Twitter.

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